One of the first things I do with any potential client is find out more about their event and their intentions. Usually they respond with the usual suspects of wanting to create more awareness or making a profit but these generic answers don’t really tell you much.
So what do I do? I sling back a cup of coffee, roll up my sleeves, and get to truly understanding the bigger picture. The more you know – especially the WHY of the event – the better you can set the stage (pun totally intended) for success and freedom in the initial concept phase. If you go in not knowing or understanding the ultimate goal, you might find yourself with a confused concept or, even worse, a mediocre event and a disappointed client.
Whether you’re fresh to the event planning scene or simply want to streamline your process, try following my top three tips for strategizing your next event.
Know The WHY
Girl, it’s time to get down and dirty and do some serious reflection. Take time to really think about what experience you’re trying to create.
I won’t often say this (and if he asks in the future, I will vehemently deny I ever advised this) but…be like my (very cute) 3 year-old who asks 200 questions a day. Keep asking “why?” until you’ve whittled down to the core purpose of your event.
Why am I doing this event?
Because I want to create more awareness about my brand with my guests.
Then ask yourself “why” again. And again. And again.
It sounds tedious but you’ll eventually get to the truth of the matter and that will create a holistic understanding that is the difference between a mildly successful event and a freaking fantastic one.
(By the way, if you want to know more about how you can set that pitch-perfect tone for your event, grab my freebie “How To Map Your Event For Success”. This free guide will lead you through the process of digging deeper and discovering the WHY of your event. Also, did I mention that it’s free?)
Have A Plan B For (Most) Things
Listen, I don’t care how detail-oriented and on-point you are, there are just some things that will be out of your control when it comes to your event.
This is why I follow the 90/10 guide. I always keep in mind that there’s a 10% chance of a hitch popping up and prepare for it by putting a Plan B in place.
It could be the speaker backing out at the last minute (gulp) or the florist AND caterer running hours behind because there’s been an accident on the highway and they’re stuck in traffic. No matter what it is, once it happens, you need to act quickly and keep it together (both yourself and the event). So be ready to reach into that back pocket and pull out your Plan B because guess what? Shit happens.
Compile a list companies or local businesses that would be able to help you out in a pinch and start putting together your backup plan. What’s the worst that could happen if you’re over-prepared? Exactly.
Map Your Strategy Out In Complete Detail
STOP. Don’t put that deposit down just yet, at least not until after you understand your event top to bottom, inside and out.
Before you start setting things in motion, sit yourself down with a blank word document and begin mapping out the logistics behind the event. This includes the schedule of events, FAQs, transportation details, pricing, the layout, the works.
I call this the “Day Of” Master Event Plan – pretty self-explanatory, yes?
In addition the aforementioned, don’t forget to include any and all pertinent information like the phone numbers of the speakers, your Plan B list, vendor contacts, etc.
I promise you, mapping out your strategy will be an absolute lifesaver for you and your team during the event. It’s what has kept me sane over a number of events and when everyone has the same information, there’s very little room for misunderstandings or confusion! It will be like your Little Black Book for the event. And it will get used. A lot.
Be Present And Be Authentic
I’ve said this before but there’s nothing like attending a live event.
Yes, you’re juggling a dozen things but let yourself be present in the moment and create an unforgettable experience. This doesn’t just apply to you, either. Make sure everyone on your team, even the caterers, are aware and present. Be mindful of your attendees, speakers, vendors, and sponsors. Make an effort to say “hi” to everyone at the event, even if it’s just a smile and eye contact. That’s all it takes to make the biggest difference in the overall vibe.
After all, creating an event is more than just a way to make profit. Especially in today’s hyperconnected world where people typically live behind screens, a live event is an honest way to make a human connection.